What is inspiration?
As always, first things first: what is inspiration? I'll consult the dictionary for that one, and then I'll give you my definition, (in that order).
Inspiration: Something that gives you new ideas and enthusiasm to do something. Inspiration: An experience, emotion or thought that sparks off a creative flow. In the context of writing lyrics, inspiration is the thing that arouses a desire to convey your feelings and thoughts in the form of lyrics.
Where can inspiration be found?
Well to put it quite simply: life. Most lyrics are written from one person's experiences, and therefore inspiration and where it is found, differs for each individual. Now, however, I'll just give some examples of experiences that may cause inspiration.
Example #1: Say you broke up with your girlfriend of 2 years; well then you'd be feeling all kinds of different emotions, and the easiest way to put the past behind you and move on is to write about these feelings.
Example #2: Maybe you saw some news coverage about the war on Iraq, and you have particular thoughts on it. Like say, you were suspicious of America's motives for going to war. Or perhaps the opposite is true. Maybe you were in full support of the war and you wanted to write about why it was necessary to go to war.
Example #3: Your father has just died and you want to write a heart-felt ode to him. Perhaps saying all the things you never said. Telling him how you really felt about him, and how you really loved him. Or perhaps you hated him but now you feel remorseful that he's gone, and you want to write about your confusion over this drastic change in emotion.
Of course, all of these deal with experiences. What about conveying thoughts and original ideas? Perhaps, you've thought of a storyline for your lyrics. Now all you have to do is keep the story flowing, make sure it never gets dull (I. e. keep the suspense on full), and make sure it comes to a complete and justified end. My point is this: you will find inspiration everywhere. In art, in experiences, in novels, in music?the list goes on.
Good question. You see; inspiration is nothing without an artist (painter, sculptor, lyrics writer, novelist etc) to do something with it. The one thing that everyone must work on as a writer is channelling this inspiration. Being able to convey thoughts and feeling in nothing more than words. And also discovering how to do it in an easily relatable way.
Accessibility is a key thing in lyrics, because if no one understands the lyrics, then no one will fully enjoy them. I mean, I'm sure there are a lot of writers who like to have extremely intelligent songs, with lots of amazing metaphors and everything else that is regarded as 'intellectual'. But I'm not trying to tell you how to write intelligent songs which no one but intellectuals will understand. Nor am I trying to teach you how to write nursery rhymes. All I'm doing is teaching you the fundamental things, which are absolute necessities in writing lyrics. It's up to you what you do with this knowledge.
So let me get back to the point: Inspiration can be found everywhere, and will come to you at anytime, but the first thing you must do is learn how to recognise it, and the second thing you must do is learn how to manipulate it. Craft a thought, feeling or experience into a set of lyrics and do it often. Then you may call yourself a lyrics writer.